12 June, 2013

Edward of Caernarfon's Family in 1284

Edward II was born in Caernarfon on Tuesday 25 April 1284, St Mark's Day, and sixteen days after Easter Sunday.  His father Edward I was then almost forty-five (born 17 June 1239) and had been king of England for just under eleven and a half years, since the death of his father Henry III on 16 November 1272.  Of Edward I's three siblings who had survived childhood, only one was still alive in 1284: Edmund, earl of Lancaster, Leicester and Derby, who was married to Blanche of Artois, niece of Louis IX of France and dowager queen of Navarre.  The couple had two sons, Edward of Caernarfon's first cousins Thomas and Henry, born in about 1278 and 1281 respectively.  Edmund lived until 5 June 1296, and Blanche until 2 May 1302.

Edward of Caernarfon's mother Queen Eleanor (d. 28 November 1290), born Infanta Doña Leonor de Castilla and known as Alianore in England, was probably forty-two at the time of her youngest child's birth (and it is virtually certain that Edward was indeed her youngest child; his alleged younger sisters Beatrice and Blanche, who appear in two of Alison Weir's books, are inventions of much later centuries).  Eleanor's brother Alfonso X of Castile died exactly three weeks before Eleanor gave birth to Edward, so presumably she spent the end of her pregnancy in mourning for him.  He was succeeded as king by his second son Sancho IV, who ignored the claims of his young nephews, the two sons of his dead older brother Fernando de la Cerda.  Of Queen Eleanor's fourteen siblings - who included the archbishops of Seville and Toledo - only two were still alive on 25 April 1284: her sister Berenguela, a nun at the abbey of Las Huelgas near Burgos, northern Spain, and the colourful Don Enrique, lord of Écija, Medellín, Dueñas and many others, senator of Rome, mercenary in North Africa and (later) regent of Castile for his great-nephew Fernando IV, who in 1284 was sixteen years into a thirty-year imprisonment in Naples.

Edward of Caernarfon was not born as heir to the English throne, as his ten-year-old brother Alfonso of Bayonne, named after their uncle and his godfather Alfonso X, was then still alive.  Alfonso died suddenly on 19 August 1284, thus sadly depriving England of its King Alfonso, and the four-month-old Edward then did become their father's heir, the sole survivor of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile's four sons (John and Henry having already died in 1271 and 1274).  Three days before young Alfonso's sudden death, Edward of Caernarfon's second cousin and future father-in-law got married, probably in Paris.  Sixteen-year-old Philip, eldest surviving son of Philip III of France whom he succeeded as king the following year, married Joan (or Jeanne or Juana), probably then eleven years old and queen of Navarre and countess of Champagne and Brie in her own right.  Joan was the only surviving child of Edward of Caernarfon's aunt by marriage Blanche of Artois, above, and her first husband King Enrique I of Navarre.  Philip and Joan's marriage produced four children who lived into adulthood: Louis X, Philip V, Charles IV and Edward II's queen Isabella of France.

Five of Edward of Caernarfon's numerous (at least ten) older sisters were still alive at the time of his birth, and also survived into adulthood: Eleanor (born 1269), Joan (born 1272), Margaret (born 1275), Mary (born 1279) and Elizabeth (born 1282).  The only one of his grandparents alive in 1284 was his paternal grandmother Eleanor of Provence, dowager queen of England and widow of Henry III, who was probably in her early sixties at the time and lived until June 1291.  Edward's paternal aunts Margaret and Beatrice had been dead for nine years, but their husbands were still alive.  Alexander III, king of Scotland, widower of Margaret, was in his early forties, and died in an accident on 19 March 1286 when he rode his horse off a cliff during a fierce storm, leaving as his sole heir his little granddaughter Margaret of Norway, to whom Edward of Caernarfon was betrothed in 1289.  And finally, Duke John II of Brittany, widower of Edward I's sister Beatrice, lived to the ripe old age of sixty-six and died in a bizarre accident in November 1305: a wall fell on him and crushed him to death as he led the horse of the newly elected pope, Clement V, around Avignon.

12 comments:

Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Kathryn, using my new weapon (read Facebook) I've posted a link to your latest article on Sharon Fan Club page. I hope you don't mind????

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks so much, Kasia, I really appreciate it! For some reason I can't access FB at the moment, but hope to be back soon ;-)

Anerje said...

Amazing to think Edward II was the youngest child of Edward Ist - and his mother 42! I wonder why 2 younger sisters were 'invented'? Were they confused with any of his cousins?

Kathryn Warner said...

There's just endless confusion about Edward I and Eleanor of Castile's children, Anerje, children added whom they never had, children they did have ignored, or their dates of birth and death and even their names wrong...!

Sami Parkkonen said...

as usual, informative!

Sonetka said...

Alas for the possible King Alfonso -- that would have been even more impressive than a real King Arthur (Tudor). I'm also curious about the origin of the imaginary younger sisters -- seeing the extra children who get tacked on to a lot of royal family trees, I'm always reminded of that cartoon showing a medieval cartographer telling another "Why don't you throw in a few islands over there, just for laughs?" It's like genealogists got bored and decided to dress the old information up a little.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Sami! :)

Sonetka, that's a good story! :) There are a couple of great posts by Eleanor of Castile's biographer John Carmi Parsons, listing her children and the ones who did not exist:

https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!topic/soc.genealogy.medieval/omPOn9xMJuA

https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en&fromgroups#!topic/soc.genealogy.medieval/mJSZPdZhgV8

Anonymous said...

Accurate birthdates were not always recorded of even female Royals/daughters,(especially if there were more than a few of them?) so it is not always easy to decide medieval female precedence (or exact parentage) of women. And there was high infant/toddler death rate, which might/not have recorded in surviving documents.

Judith

Bryan Dunleavy said...

Once again Kathryn your nuggets of truth rise above the prevailing mist of casual assertions by less careful researchers. I had assumed until now (silly me) that the genealogical tables published by Alison Weir might represent something that even she couldn't get wrong. The references to the obscure posts by John C Parsons are very useful.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Bryan! John Carmi Parsons' research into Eleanor of Castile and her children is superb - the posts I linked to above are based on his scholarly article published in Mediaeval Studies in 1984. There are still people who claim in print that Edward II's sister Margaret, duchess of Brabant, died in 1318, which is an error made by Agnes Strickland in the 19th century and STILL repeated today, even though Margaret was clearly alive in 1333 when she was in correspondence with her nephew Edward III (and Edward II wrote to her a few times in the 1320s). This is yet another example of the endless confusion surrounding Edward II's siblings.

Bryan Dunleavy said...

And you have incidentally alerted me to the fact that these news groups are still around. I used to use them 20 years ago in the early days of the internet but I assumed that they had withered with the coming of blogging and other forms of social media.

Kathryn Warner said...

They're still around and can be a real mine of information, though gen.medieval is often full of silly bickering, which can be very off-putting and is a big reason why I never post there.